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Active RFID Brings Light to Equipment Search
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Advanced Light Source division is employing RF Code RFID hardware and AssetPulse software to track equipment used on light-generating accelerators.
Jul 22, 2011—Advanced Light Source (ALS), at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is installing an active RFID tag solution from RF Code to track the 125 pieces of equipment that scientists and technicians utilize within various sections of the multiple-building facility. The system includes software provided and hosted by California asset-tracking software firm AssetPulse.
ALS is a laboratory that generates intense beams of invisible light for the purpose of scientific research. Light produced at that facility—in the X-ray region of the electromagnetic spectrum—is one billion times brighter than that of the Sun. The X-ray and ultraviolet beams are generated by bunches of electron traveling at nearly the speed of light, forced into a circular path by magnets and through tubes, to reach experiment end-stations. Scientists utilize this intense degree of light to conduct research in materials science, biology, chemistry, physics and the environmental sciences. ALS' technicians maintain the accelerator that generates that light. These technicians, as well as scientists, require a variety of tools—mostly vacuum pumps, along with spare parts for the accelerator—that they can borrow and then return to an ALS storage area.
During business hours, each technician provides his or her name before borrowing a piece of equipment from the ALS storage area, which is then recorded on an Excel spreadsheet. The technicians often work at night or outside of normal business hours, however, and at such times, these items can become missing until a technician returns them. Frank Zucca, ALS' senior mechanical engineering technical associate, is responsible for managing the equipment. Previously, he sent staff members throughout the labs once annually, in order to locate all missing equipment. That, he says, could require a three-day project for him and approximately three other employees.
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